The ground at Uttoxeter was described as good on Sunday morning but there was the distinct prospect of heavy showers hitting the midlands track and I would imagine conditions are likely to be no better than good to soft for today’s nine-race card.
In the opener Le Grand Rocher (1.35) has his first start for David Pipe and has had his wind tweaked since finishing third – albeit 27L in arrears – behind Goshen at Fontwell back in November. The four-year-old – 11/4 with bet365 – is certainly bred for the job and has been given plenty of time to get over what was an inauspicious start to his racing career in Britain. That patience can be rewarded.
Sangha River is the class act on show as he chases a quick hat-trick although he must give 15lbs to hurdling newcomer Pianissimo who is rated 90+ on the level. A market move for the latter would be worth noting.
Lungarno Palace will have his supporters in the handicap hurdle over a trip just shy of 3m, but I was surprised to see Dagueneau (3.10) had only been raised 2lbs for scoring at Stratford – 2m 6f – last month and he is taken to double up for Emma Lavelle. That success was gained on good ground, but he did win on soft ground on the level and he has only been raised 4lbs for winning his last couple. He may well be still ahead of the handicapper and 9/2 with Boylesports looks fair..
Kuiper Belt is becoming very well handicapped on his best form and Christian Williams had a winner at Southwell earlier in the week. He is 50/1 at the time of writing although he may not want too much rain. One to keep a close eye on in the weeks to come.
Story Of Friends was an unlucky faller after the last in a good 2m handicap hurdle but he wouldn’t have finished in front of Petit Palais (4.10) and the Tom George gelding can confirm the form stepped up in trip this afternoon. The selection – 9/2 with Unibet – is a half brother to classic winner Galileo Gold and is not proven on soft ground, but he has the scope for the winter game and won two of his first three starts over timber.
Thibault only got as far as the fifth at Southwell last time and is best watched at present although he does have the scope to make his mark over fences in time. Youracert (4.40) may be best served by going right-handed but he was rallying when blundering two out at Southwell last time and he gets the vote for Brian Hughes and Donald McCain. The ew selection – 7s with bet365 – is a winning pointer and will get further in time than the minimum trip of 2 miles, but this is not the strongest of handicaps even for the grade.
At Windsor, this evening I am looking forward to the return to the track of Domino Darling (7.00) who scored at Doncaster on debut back in October over a mile on heavy ground. The filly must give 7lbs away to her 13 rivals today, but she holds an entry in a Group 2 at the Curragh next month. She is by Golden Horn out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and this evening’s 10f trip looks an ideal starting point for her belated reappearance.